The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child get an orthodontic check up no later than age 7 in order to diagnose problems with jaw growth, harmful oral habits, and future crowding of erupting permanent teeth.
The reason for this recommendation is that, by age 7, the first adult molars and front incisors have fully erupted, establishing the bite. Age 7 is the earliest age when an orthodontist is able to tell if a patient will ever need treatment, the type of treatment needed, and the age when treatment should be performed.
You should seek orthodontic treatment before age 7 if your child has:
- Difficulty chewing
- Open mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Overlapping or crowding of erupting permanent teeth
- Jaws that click or pop
- Biting of the cheek or into the roof of the mouth
- Speech problems
- Grinding or wearing down of teeth
- Obvious abnormal bite development of any kind
Patients with jawbone problems are typically best corrected between age 9 and 12. These patients will usually have two phases of orthodontic treatment, the first to correct bone growth and the second to correct tooth position. Failure to correct jawbone problems while the jaws are growing may result in the need for surgery to correct these problems at a later date.
Patients with orthodontic problems limited to tooth position may best be treated between age 12 and 14, however, orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age! In fact, almost 40 percent of all orthodontic patients today are adults. With the popularity of Invisalign®® and clear braces, the number of adult patients is increasing.